Itchy and Scratchy

I mentioned a couple of times that I have psoriasis. For those of you who don’t know – psoriasis is an autoimmune disease of the skin. Mine is of the plaque variety, but there are many different forms – some very painful and debilitating. Psoriatic Arthritis is a fairly common development for Psoriasis sufferers and there is an increased risk of other health issues. If you’re interested in more details, you can find more information here.

Mine is mostly on my scalp, but pops up on occasion in other spots. It would be considered a minor case considering that some folks with psoriasis have it on 90% of their bodies and end up in the hospital to control the pain and other symptoms. For me, given what other people suffer with this disease, it’s mostly an annoyance. It’s like having the worst case of dandruff you could ever imagine. Sometimes the spots on the other parts of my body hurt – especially if I have a breakout on my face – which doesn’t happen often.

I’ve tried a lot of medicines – mostly topical creams/ointments containing steroids. Some helped, some didn’t. But eventually, it came back and very often worse than when I started any given treatment. I decided – as my psoriasis flared at one point – that I needed to do something to treat the potential root causes. One of the (now ironic) risks of scalp psoriasis is hair loss and I really didn’t want to lose my hair (ha!).  I stumbled upon Dr. John Pagano’s Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative and a couple of other books that seemed to point to similar triggers and approaches.

So, I changed my diet. I stopped eating nightshades – peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and some other foods thought to be triggers, like strawberries. I already avoided sugar, but I cut way back on my drinking (like, 3 glasses a week to 1). I also tried to switch to all natural products – minimizing my exposure to chemicals – shampoo, soap, makeup, deodorant, etc. I started taking supplements that Dr. Pagano recommended – drinking Saffron tea, taking slippery elm and lecithin capsules. I did a 2 week cleanse. Not only did my psoriasis nearly disappear, but I lost about 15 pounds. It was pretty remarkable. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t leave a trail of flakes behind me as I left a room.

But, psoriasis is a fickle beast. Eventually it stopped working as most things that help seem to do. Shampoo, cream, or medication rotation is a common trend among sufferers.

I had also heard that chemotherapy would reduce or eliminate psoriasis. Some folks who don’t have cancer actually begin a chemotherapy regimen to control their severe psoriasis. They are so desperate for relief, they willingly take chemotherapy drugs. I figured that – aside from battling the beast in my brain – it was maybe one of the only benefits. I think it probably did help during that 6 weeks of non-spa treatment. But maybe I just didn’t care as much. It’s come back since then. As it always does.

After watching William Li’s TED talk on anti-angiogenesis, I thought that in my efforts to control my annoying minor case of psoriasis, had I inadvertently fed sleeping cancer cells in my brain – triggering rapid tumor growth? There are some who dispute William Li’s claims of anti-angiogenesis effects on cancer, but every theory/approach/treatment has doubters. If we knew what ‘worked’ to prevent/treat/cure cancer there would be a news story or two about it. We’d need less money for cancer research, not more. Each cancer is different, each body is different – it’s all a mystery and there’s never likely going to be that ONE thing that works. As much as we all might hope.

So, I eat tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and the other things I tried to eliminate to reduce my risk of losing my hair (ha!). My psoriasis is back – sometimes it’s worse than others. But IF anti-angiogenesis has any chance of helping control my brain tumor (or other potential tumors) – I’ll eat those foods that have shown to have an effect. If chemotherapy continues to keep my beast locked away, with or without a potential benefit of helping my psoriasis, bring it on. I’ll take an itchy head and a few days of nausea over a terminal brain tumor any day of the week.

2 thoughts on “Itchy and Scratchy

  1. Okay, too strange that you posted this today, minutes after I asked my doctor to refer me to a dermatologist for red, swollen, itchy skin on face. Not psoriasis, but still – I saw the headline “Itchy and Scratchy” and shuddered.

    Very good information, and so sorry you are going through this on top of everything else.

    Mine may be stress-related; just found out a sister has esophageal cancer. So I will be continuing to pay attention to your “Every Day Left” posts in hopes of passing a joyful, live every day fully attitude over to her….


    • Stress can make psoriasis worse or trigger a flare up. I’m sorry to hear about your sister. I hope that she stays strong and prevails – I know she’ll be surrounded by love and positive energy.

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